What is Butoh? / 舞踏とは?

What is Butoh? / 舞踏とは?

We created SPACE DANCE through Butoh as its development by Tetsuro Fukuhara’s experience. So, we have a question, “What is Butoh?” Butoh is still in circulation in the world’s cultural markets under the name “Butoh / 舞踏”.


Butoh is currently ending its epidemic in Europe and the United States, and has started in Africa, Asia, and Middle & South America. We can find many Butoh Dancers and Choreographers in the world.


Butoh has two styles, one is “Butoh with Darkness“, other is “Improvisation Butoh“. Tetsuro Fukuhara, delegate of Tokyo Space Dance, he belongs to “Improvisation Butoh” as the second generation. He carries on Butoh, then he created “Space Dance” to socialize a dance and the “Tacit Knowledge” as a value for the general public by the collaboration of “Dance + Architecture + Information + Design“.

日本で誕生した「舞踏」には暗黒舞踏派即興舞踏派がありますが、東京スペースダンス代表・福原哲郎は舞踏第二世代として即興舞踏派に属します。そして、舞踏の中に含まれる『身体知』を情報化して社会に還元するために「ダンス + 建築 + 情報 + デザイン」によるコラボレーションを採用し、舞踏を「スペースダンス」として継承しています。


■What is Butoh? / 舞踏とは何か ?

In the second half of 1960, in Japan, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno created “Butoh with Darkness” to unify the difference as a big problem between the traditional dance & its culture before Edo-era as Japanse original and the modern dance & its culture after Meiji-era from Europe and America. Then, Akira Kasai created “Improvisation Butoh” through “Butoh with Darkness”. Tetsuro Fukuhara studied “Improvisation Butoh” from Akira Kasai and “Spirit of Butoh” from Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno.

舞踏は、 1960年代後半の日本において、 江戸時代までに存在していた日本の伝統的身体所作と現代ダンスを融合するものとして、土方巽大野一雄により暗黒舞踏が創造され、笠井叡により即興舞踏が創造されました。福原哲郎は笠井叡より即興舞踏を学び、土方巽より「舞踏の精神」を学びました。

The definition of Butoh by Tetsuro Fukuhara is like the below;


Butoh is “
step from within“.

Butoh is “self-realization” though the body of the individual, direct, original dance technique.

Butoh is “recovery of the wild in mankind and a rebirth of the body” intoxicated somehow lost in the contemporary world.

Butoh is an art which promotes us growth, and keeps “the age-worthy flower” blossoming continuously. Everybody can make their own Butoh as much as they receive their own body.

What is a pleasure of a dance? Sure, it is a pleasure to change our feelings about our world at the moment. In this dance feelings we can’t find any differences between ourselves and between our humans and other all existence, we feel we are connected to everyone and everywhere. So a dancer dance eternally to get this feelings exactly.

Butoh is a physical art that creates a “Dance that matures with Age“. Like Japanese Noh’s “Flower“, Butoh has “Flower in Time” and “Flower in Secret” and Butoh Artist creates the beauty that matures year by year.

Also, as 21st dance history, we have a big theme to develop “a mature dance together with our age” using new dance technique. If we should retire after a definit e age, we should say its dance belongs to the old system. In Butoh the maturity is important, for us “the tacit knowledge” which we keep in our body is most important treasure. We can increase the tacit knowledge with our age year by year and we can create our dances on the basis of this Knowledge. For this dance we don’t need the so-called strong muscles.

So, we teach several ways for the participants and our students to receive their own body, to away a model for the imitation, to decide the things by themselves, to find their own feelings and techniques, and to make their own dance story.

◎Critique / 批評

“Our Day with a Crisis”
Shigeo Ohyama
, Research of Asahi-Newspapers investigation center, Tokyo

My attraction to Butoh is based on the world of technology. As a journalist I have been dealing with information technology and computers for more than ten years. Doing such work I became aware, through my all senses, of all what is happening in our day life, and this made me aware of a strong sense of crisis in the future of the human mind’s image.


As far as I understand Butoh is not a dance merely trying to express some ideas or feelings through the body, but is trying to express the body itself, the root of the body. Of course, as a form of art Butoh has diversity, but I think that as excellent Butoh dancer should feel the crisis of our time. So, I had entered the Butoh’s world and I met Tetsuro Fukuhara there.


When I saw his dance for the first time he was dancing in the center of the stage. As a tree growing he held both arms straight up in the air. The highly raised right hand was moving slowly, and even more slowly did his fingers do so, but nevertheless his body was advancing. At that instant, as if in a spark, I remembered something deep down. It was nonverbal, a sense appearing like a wave – motion way ? down my own body. This movement happened simultaneously with the movement of Fukuhara’s dance, which was cutting the space in a minimal but intense way. The intensity locking me down. I was surprised that his dance could express the original sense of the body for a movement.


“Beyond Style”
Yvonne Tenenbaum, Art Critic, Paris

In Tetsuro Fukuhara’s dance, we see a Butoh even more extreme than it was till now; no figurative image, no representation in any way, no history, no myth, no recognizable forms from any where, even from previous Butoh. And his dance in not confined either in slow motion nor in attitudes of retirement within oneself. We just see bodies listening and leaving way to the every strange force that makes them and human people dance. Like a tree’s leaves and branches, they show us every movement and stage of this force, sometimes wild, sometimes subtle and almost imperceptible.

私は今日、世にも澄み切ったダンスを見た。福原哲郎のダンスは、欧米の国々で一般的になった暗黒舞踏とは違い、私が理解した舞踏の真髄に近いものである。 自我の消失についての探求は西欧でも、トレシャ・ブラウンやウィリアム・フォーサイスによっても試行されている。しかし、福原の舞踏の特徴は、ダンサーと演出家は一体であり、彼は自己のダンスの経過を聴きつつダンスしている、という点である。


“Living Sculptures”
Nadine Meisner, the Sunday Times, London

Britain’s first festival of new Butoh was in full celebration in London’s East End. Butoh performers often seem like living sculptures, merged with the surrounding space, hardly disturbing the air. Sometimes they move so slowly you scarcely notice, as happened with Tetsuro Fukuhara’s piece. I confess to an occasional restlessness as great chunks of time passed with little perceptible difference to the stage picture. Even so, the performance was compelling, Fukuhara creating a spare and mysterious beauty.



なぜ彼はこのように自由に振舞えるのか? 彼は自分自身に聞き入り、魂の森のなかに姿を隠しているようだ。彼は劇場の約束事には縛られず、自分ひとりのままで嬉々としており、ひたすら身体に湧き出してくる驚くべきエネルギーに守られていた。人間の動きには必ず終わりがあるのに、彼の動きはその束縛を逃れ、はじめも終わりもなく、永遠に続いていくように思われた。

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